A £3.5m programme to upgrade and expand the Thomas Telford Corpach Marina in Fort William has moved a step closer following the securement of final funding.
The improvements will provide new jobs, increased facilities for local people and tourists, as well as significantly upgrading marine facilities for locally-owned and visiting vessels.
In addition to a 40-berth marina and public slipway to launch boats, a community coffee shop and variety of related shore facilities will also be provided.
The work is being made possible by funding from a number of organisations including Crown Estate Scotland, Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Mowi Scotland.
Caol Regeneration Company (CRC), a not-for-profit community organisation, which is co-ordinating this, the third stage of the project, expects the entire marina to be commissioned in August. This follows earlier development of a car park, public slipway and facilities building, which have been completed over the past two years.
Simon Hodge, Chief Executive of Crown Estate Scotland, said: “The confirmation that Corpach Marina’s long-planned development can now move ahead is extremely welcome news. Having agreed the lease of the seabed to the Marina, we’re pleased to be strengthening our partnership further, as part of our programme of ongoing investment in marine tourism infrastructure. Our commitment of £500,000 of capital investment is for the long-term, and we look forward to playing our part in helping encourage economic development here, and with other coastal communities around Scotland.”
Donald Corbett, Chair of Caol Regeneration Company, said, “After more than a decade of continuous effort and determination by our team of community volunteers, I am delighted to announce that we are able to proceed with the third and final phase of Corpach Marina. The brainchild of the late Dr. Su Sen, this development emerged from an earlier plan by Lochaber Small Boat Owners Association. Over the years we have enjoyed the support of many individuals and organisations, for which I’m very grateful. Now that we have the green light for the final phase, we are confident it will be a fantastic asset benefitting the people of the area in so many ways.”
The final phase of work will see local company, Gael Force Group Ltd, providing breakwaters and pontoons, which will be assembled at its nearby Corpach boatyard.
Andy McKenna, Chair of Thomas Telford Corpach Marina Ltd (TTCM), said: “There were many occasions when we thought this wonderful facility wouldn’t come to fruition - we were faced with huge funding challenges, a complete redesign of the facility buildings, and of course Covid. But we have come through all of that with really positive plans to contribute something big to the local community and to water sports in the area. The focus of the TTCM board is now on making this a success, a brilliant amenity that everyone can be proud of and that provides a truly excellent service to our customers.”
The project’s phase three funders are:
- Crown Estate Scotland - £500,000 capital investment
- Highland Council - £400,000 through the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, and £100,000 from the Highland Coastal Communities Fund
- Highlands and Islands Enterprise - £150,000
- Mowi Scotland - £150,000 in kind (repurposed mooring equipment) and cash
Ben Hadfield, COO of Mowi Scotland, said: “Mowi is very pleased to participate in this important community project, and thrilled to see it come to completion after the hard work and perseverance of so many contributors. Mowi was quick to want to be involved several years ago because this is exactly the kind of infrastructure development that brings much benefit to the Fort William area.”
Stephen Offord, Gael Force Group Production Director, said, “We are thrilled that the team at Caol Regeneration Company has placed their confidence in us as an experienced local pontoon manufacturer in the Highlands, to support them in realising their long-held ambition for an excellent local marina facility. Our robust range of SeaHaven pontoons and breakwaters will provide a safe haven for visiting and local leisure craft alike. We now look forward to the development getting underway - our involvement in this project is a huge source of pride for Gael Force Group.”
For Highland Council, Interim Lochaber Area Committee Chair, Cllr Allan Henderson said: “The Thomas Telford Corpach Marina project offers a much-needed asset to both locals and visitors. The project which, from inception, has been driven by community volunteers is a testament to all involved. It was an ambitious undertaking and at times an arduous journey, however the rewards are to be commended and the legacy of the marina can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Ian Philp from Highland and Islands Enterprise’s Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross area team, said: "We are very pleased to have been able to help the company from the very start, including providing support for feasibility and the civil engineering and facilities building. It's fantastic that new jobs will be created in the marine tourism sector as a result of the enhanced facilities as well as improved access to the water provided for local people and visitors. We are delighted that the company is able to take its growth ambitions another step forward with the signing of the final phase and we look forward to working with them as they bring this fantastic asset to the area."